LGBTQIA+ Graphic Novels to Read if You Like Heartstopper!
By Carly Bennett, Emma Holbrook, Emily Myhill and Becca Binnie
Heartstopper recently took the world by storm and illustrated how brilliant the medium of graphic novels can be, which inspired us to compile a list of other brilliant LGBTQ+ graphic novels. From apocalyptic queer teens trying to survive, to Greek mythology retellings and witchy love stories, there’s sure to be something in here for everyone!
Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker (illustrated by Wendy Xu)
Billed as “a story of love and demons, family and witchcraft,” Mooncakes is a sweet, magical graphic novel about self-discovery and the bonds of family, chosen or otherwise. Featuring a host of LGBTQ+ characters, Mooncakes explores both sexuality and gender and has some of the loveliest queer representation I’ve seen in literature.
We follow protagonist Nova Huang, a teen witch who works and lives with her grandmothers in their bookshop that specialises in spell books. Our story begins when a horse demon appears in the woods and Nova finds her childhood crush, Tam, battling the demon in werewolf form. Nova and Tam’s journey leads them to discover evil forces that put Tam and the other wolves’ lives in danger, and now Nova must rely both on her magical abilities and the strength of her family to help good prevail over evil.
Blending romance, witchcraft and identity against the backdrop of Wendy Xu’s beautiful art style, Mooncakes the perfect cosy read to curl up with as the evenings draw in in preparation for spooky season!
Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe
“Sensitive and elegant . . . Beautiful artwork and compelling characters [take] the forefront of this romantic, tech-savvy retelling of Greek mythology.” – Booklist
Up next, the contemporary reimagining of one of the most popular romances in Greek mythology, the first volume of the graphic novel series, Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe, which will have you amused and addicted from the very first page!
In this modern retelling of the famous Hades and Persephone myth (or The Rape of Persephone as it is commonly known), we are introduced to the world of Greek gods and goddesses whose daily lives are filled with pain, pleasure, gossip and a lot of drama!
Following the journey of Hades, the dark and mysterious ancient lord of the Underworld, as he seeks out a romantic relationship with the shy and innocent Persephone, the goddess of spring, Smythe presents us with a diverse selection of characters, directly appealing to the LGBTQIA+ community.
Whilst Greek mythology is known for its heavy theme of male homosexual relationships/tendencies, the lack of female homosexuality or queer representation even in today’s retellings left Smythe wanting to appeal to other members of the community. And Lore Olympus offers readers the perfect solution – the inclusivity of lesbian/queer relationships through the characters of Hestia and Athena, both queer goddesses who you fall in love with at first sight! If you’re looking for more female x female representation, Lore Olympus is for you!
Paper Girls by Brian Vaughan
If you’re wanting an action-packed, fun and wild graphic novel series with gloriously bright 80s-themed visuals, Paper Girls is the right choice for you. It begins directly in the action, with four young teenage girls trying to complete their paper round in the midst of what seems to be a global apocalypse. Fast-paced and packing plenty of punches, it’s an engaging and action-filled series for science fiction graphic novel fans!
It has a range of queer representation; the series, amongst all the action, follows two of the paper girls as they come to terms with their queerness and some side characters, such as the first two male characters from the future, are also canonically queer. However, there are strong themes of homophobia and slurs used due to being set in the late 80s, so make sure this is something you’re comfortable reading about before jumping in.
This is a beautifully illustrated coming-of-age story with an immense, non-stop action storyline that focuses upon a very diverse range of characters. With an Amazon Prime series recently released, there’s plenty of Paper Girls content to devour when you’ve made your way through the graphic novels too! A truly brilliant, bright and wacky story with a big heart, Paper Girls is a must-read if you’re wanting a fun sci-fi graphic novel with a diverse queer character base!
On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden
Originally a sci-fi webcomic, On a Sunbeam tells the story of Mia on her adventure to rediscover lost love. Published as a graphic novel in 2018, Walden created a science fictional space universe which Mia is drifting through, trying to find somewhere to belong.
Using flashbacks, the depth of Mia’s character is explored as she joins the Sunbeam maintenance team as they restore buildings on planets. An honest and inclusive LGBTQ+ love story in a creative and exciting fictional space, with some great reflection on the importance of pronouns and the power of fighting for one’s heart. Tillie Walden has crafted a beautiful graphic novel that deserves a space on your bookshelf.